4 in 5 Americans say they are at least somewhat enthusiastic about the outdoors

National park attendance has grown 3.21% over the first six months of 2017 compared to the same time frame in 2016, according to the National Park Service. With more than four in five Americans saying they’re at least somewhat enthusiastic about the outdoors, accommodations close to national parks could bring in new types of tourists by providing the comforts of home for travelers, particularly those who are adventurous (Mintel’s Outdoor Enthusiasts US 2017 report).

Promoting parks through new accommodations

Airbnb has partnered with the National Park Foundation to make it easier for prospective outdoor enthusiasts to find accommodations close to national parks throughout the US. To do this, the online home-sharing marketplace has created a page on its website to help travelers find accommodations near 10 national parks, including the perennially popular Grand Canyon National Park and Everglades National Park. The accommodations will include travel trailers, tepees and mountain lodges in addition to more traditional housing such as homes or condos.

In a statement on Airbnb Citizen, Airbnb says the partnership aims to make the parks accessible to as many people as possible. Increased bookings and local spending will hopefully make this a mutually beneficial arrangement for Airbnb and the communities around these national parks. The National Parks Foundation hopes that efforts like these will ensure younger outdoor enthusiasts develop a relationship with national parks and want to conserve them in the future.

What we think

A partnership between Airbnb and the National Park Foundation is a concerted effort to boost interest in national parks among younger generations. The unique accommodations offered by Airbnb already appeal to Millennials’ yearning for authentic experiences while traveling. As a trusted travel brand with a considerable amount of clout among younger generations, Airbnb can connect new audiences to national parks in the short and long term. As travelers today continue to crave experiences, national parks may look to provide activities for visitors to enjoy outside of the “traditional” ones. Opportunities to participate in non-traditional outdoor activities, such as BMX biking and stand-up paddling, might further entice new audiences to enjoy national parks.

Efforts like this will likely be especially important among tourists that don’t like to camp. According to Mintel’s report on regional tourism in the US, camping is one of the most divisive vacation activities, with two in five vacationers saying they are not interested in it. People likely want to experience national parks, but not necessarily camp in them. Accommodation options that promote and provide the comforts of home may help draw the attention of camping-averse travelers.

John Poelking is a Leisure Analyst at Mintel. Prior to his analyst role, John worked in product development and digital publishing. His passion for live entertainment, movies, television, technology and travel informs his sector knowledge.

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